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New Belmont twist
A group of community leaders, activists and local residents is calling for a state-funded environmental review of the proposed development at Belmont Park.
The Belmont Park Community Coalition, led by community activist Tammie Williams, has suggested that a new study — funded by state taxpayers and conducted by an organization that the coalition would vet — is necessary to establish a “truly independent assessment of the project.”
But an Empire State Development spokeswoman told The Point that the environmental impact study underway at Belmont already is “an independent analysis.” That process, in which the state or locality chooses the consultants, and developers cover any expenses related to a project they hope to build, is typical for state and local projects like this one.
The Belmont Park development team, which includes Sterling Project Development, the New York Islanders and Oak View Group, put $1 million into an escrow account when they won the bid to build at Belmont. The group will replenish that account as necessary, according to Empire State Development officials. The environmental firm conducting the study, AKRF, was chosen by the state.
Even at the Nassau Hub, where the Lighthouse Project never came to fruition, developers spent as much as $15 million on reports, studies and consultants. More recently, Oyster Bay residents called for an independent study of Syosset Park at the former Cerro Wire site. That, too, will be paid for by the development team.
But the Belmont Park Community Coalition isn’t buying it. Spokesman Aubrey Phillips told The Point he distrusts the independence of the study, which is “being paid for by people who need a particular outcome.”
Of course, their demands that the state conduct the study means it would be led by Belmont’s biggest cheerleader — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who certainly wants a particular outcome.
Randi F. Marshall
Cuomo to the docks
With campaign season building steam, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo came down from the heights of his Manhattan office on Thursday to meet over veggie-and-cheese plates with two new Brooklyn “resistance”-style groups, Indivisible Nation BK and Get Organized BK.
Members of the Trump-era groups have been in touch with Cuomo staffers before and have been highly critical of Cuomo’s more centrist actions. If you close your eyes, their concerns sound a lot like gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon’s.
The 2.5-hour meeting in the back of Docks, an East Side seafood joint, was initiated by Cuomo’s side, according to Liat Olenick, co-president of Indivisible Nation BK. Top Cuomo lieutenant Melissa DeRosa also attended. Topics included political issues like the governor’s position on control of the State Senate and the former breakaway caucus that aligned with Republicans known as the Independent Democratic Conference. According to Asher Novek of Get Organized BK, Cuomo committed to primarying any Democrats who break away again.
And on Monday morning, the groups seemed to have a more immediate win. They had pushed Cuomo on offering pardons to immigrants here illegally who had committed nonviolent state crimes, to protect them from deportation. On Monday, Cuomo sent out a news release about granting pardons to seven individuals facing deportation.
In a tweet, DeRosa said the program was launched in December 2017, and these seven were the next group that applied through the program.
But clearly Cuomo took pains to show that he and the groups were on the same side on this issue. In the meeting, the groups were told Cuomo intends to make more pardons, and on Monday, Cuomo’s camp notified the groups about the new round, said Olenick.
- Russia’s foreign minister said Maria Butina should be released from jail, saying charges that she infiltrated American political organizations as a Russian agent were “fabricated.” Sounds a lot like “witch hunt,” doesn’t it?
- The famous cedars of Lebanon are more than 1,000 years old but face extinction by the end of the century — from climate change, which some of our nation’s leaders say doesn’t exist. Like, soon, the cedars of Lebanon.
- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told his fellow finance ministers from around the world that President Donald Trump will not interfere with Federal Reserve decisions despite recent criticism of Fed interest rate hikes. Which made Mnuchin the latest White House official to have to explain that Trump’s bark often is worse than his bite.
- With his obsequiousness to Russia continuing to dominate the news, President Donald Trump over the weekend switched gears to tweet about personal attorney Michael Cohen, which renewed focus on Trump’s possible involvement in paying off women with whom he had affairs. When that’s your diversionary tactic, all you’ve got are bad choices.
- President Donald Trump is angry that North Korea negotiations have not been progressing, that the North Koreans have not destroyed a missile-engine testing program as Trump said they would, and that they are trying to hide parts of their nuclear program. Is the president the only person who didn’t see that coming?
- So the LIRR is printing some monthly tickets for August that have the wrong year on them. That doesn’t figure to be too disconcerting for riders, though; the trains were late then, too.